MIFF Review – The Butterfly Tree

Once in a while a new player enters the battlefield of independent films everywhere and is a force to be reckoned with. Priscilla Cameron is exactly this person with her debut feature film, The Butterfly Tree. Written and directed by Cameron, the film tells the story of a son and father coping with the recent loss of their mother and wife. As they learn how to live without her, they both befriend and fall in love with an ex-burlesque performer, Evelyn, who has recently opened up a flower shop in their town.

On paper, it is difficult to express how beautiful, realistic and raw this film is but I can assure you that it is. The film is dressed in mysticism and curiosity, however, when Cameron slowly peels off those layers, to reveal a raw and honest to God account of their lives, is when it is most endearing. Her depiction of death, love, boyhood, lust and family is endearing and truthful with just a hint of nostalgia and bitter sweetness. Her balance between art and narrative is superbly done, which is often not the case with independents such as these. If you are a fan of Sofia Coppola’s pace and style, be sure to check this one out.

The cast were all phenomenal with particularly excellent performances from Ewen Leslie (The Daughter) and Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes). However, it is Melissa George (Grey’s Anatomy, The Goodwife, Home and Away) who takes the cake as she carries her performance with dignity and wonder. She very successfully creates two versions of Evelyn, the one in the men’s heads and the real Evelyn with real emotions and fears.

The direction, cinematography, script, performances and composition were all incredibly well done, which is wonderful considering it is a locally produced film. The Butterfly Tree is well worth checking out at the Melbourne International Film Festival this August. Expect many great things from Priscilla Cameron and this film to come.

Review by Jackie Jeanette

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